Women of reproductive age who binge drink or have alcohol-related problem symptoms (APS) and who do not use contraception are considered at risk of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy (AEP). In the U.S., efforts to prevent AEPs focus largely on delivering interventions in primary health care settings. While research suggests that these interventions are efficacious for women reached, it is unclear to what extent these interventions are likely to reach women at risk of AEPs.
Data are from the Turnaway Study, a study of 956 women seeking pregnancy termination at 30 U.S. facilities between 2008 and 2010, some of whom received and some of whom were denied terminations because they were past the gestational limit. We examined associations between binge drinking, APS, and drug use prior to pregnancy recognition and having a usual source of health care (USOC).
Overall, 59% reported having a USOC. A smaller proportion with than without an APS reported a USOC (44 vs. 60%, p < .05) and a smaller proportion using than not using drugs reported a USOC (51 vs. 61%, p < .05). This pattern was not observed for binge drinking. In multivariate analyses, an APS continued to be associated with lack of a USOC, while drug use was no longer associated with lack of a USOC.
As more than 40% did not have a USOC, with higher proportions among women with an APS, primary health-care based approaches to AEP prevention seem unlikely to reach the majority of women who have an APS and are at risk of an unintended pregnancy.